Meet the Judges


Lauren Davis, Craft

Sawtooth School for Visual Art

Lauren Davis serves as the executive director of Sawtooth School for Visual Art, which is located in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem, dubbed the City of Arts & Innovation. As a nonprofit administrator with a sincere passion for education and visual art, Davis believes in the creativity and vibrancy that Sawtooth brings to the community she’s called home for 12 years. Founded in 1945, Sawtooth School for Visual Art has served to strengthen the area’s creative core for generations through high-quality instruction and visual art experiences for students of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels. Sawtooth offers instruction in 11 disciplines and 15 mediums and serves the community through its Arts + Wellness and Youth Outreach programs.

Photo: C. Stephen Hurst

Michael Cates, Drink

1618 Midtown

Michael Cates is the bar manager at 1618 Midtown in Greensboro. Though he’s been in hospitality for decades, Cates adds a dash of youthful exuberance to every cocktail he mixes. Born in Tacoma, Washington, to an Air Force family, Cates moved around before landing in his father’s hometown of Greensboro. He has been with 1618 since 2016. If he were a flavor, Cates identifies as Campari — the unmistakable, vibrantly red Italian apéritif is an acquired taste that seems bitter on first blush but is mixologist-renowned for complex and intriguing flavors.

Jamie Davis, Food

The Hackney

Jamie Davis is the executive chef at The Hackney in Washington. Originally from Jacksonville, Davis’s father was a Marine and the family moved around before settling back in their home state of North Carolina. He started working in his first restaurant at age 16 and worked his way from dishwasher to manager by the time he was 18. Davis joined the Army and cooked and served for troops in Iraq before attending culinary school. While his cooking style is grounded in classical training, his menu reflects his love of various food cultures within the South. Davis is passionate about cooking and enjoying the freshest seafood and letting local, seasonal ingredients shine.

Photo: Emily Bennett

Jody Chaffee, Home & Garden

J. Wilkinson Chair Company

Jody Chaffee is the founder and CEO of J. Wilkinson Chair Company, which she launched in 2019 at the age of 65. A family-owned and -operated business in eastern North Carolina, J. Wilkinson Chair Company is committed to curating impeccable, custom monogrammed chairs and barstools for those who share a love of monograms, family, and fine furnishings. Chaffee pairs elegant monograms with beautiful wood to celebrate the special occasions in the life of a family — and cherishes knowing her chairs may remain in the family for years to come. Her chairs have been featured in Our State, Traditional Home, and Victoria magazines.

Nadira Hurley, Style

Vert & Vogue

Nadira Hurley is the co-owner of Vert & Vogue in Durham with her husband, Ryan. Vert & Vogue opened its doors in 2008 with the vision of championing green innovations and creating joy and connection through independent design and personal style. Hurley often jokes that she was born into fashion. She worked retail as a teen in France, traveled across Europe in her early twenties as a sales rep for her brother-in-law’s womenswear brand, then worked in showrooms in Paris before making her way to retail in the city. She thrived working in boutiques in Paris, and Hurley still feels lucky to be able to find the perfect solution to each woman’s style equation at Vert & Vogue.